How to Start a WordPress Blog for Under $100
I started the website Tried and True Mom Jobs for only $84. I’m completely self-taught and believe ME when I say, if I can do it, you definitely can.
I’ve had numerous requests to share the process of how to start a blog, so I am going to share with you what steps to take, free resources to use, and how I only spent $84.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
Here is How to Start and Make Money Blogging for Beginners
Step 1: Decide what to blog about
Many bloggers write about what they are passionate about. I’m passionate about moms being able to stay home, raise their kids, and make money because it’s what I want and I believe my findings won’t only help me, but can help others too.
Unfortunately, every passion you have won’t make you money. Scrivs from Obstacle.co says the 7 top blog niches that gain the most traffic and make the most money are:
- How to Make Money
- Personal Finance
- Health and Fitness
- Beauty and Fashion
- Personal Development
You can certainly make money in other niches, but these are just the most popular. It can take several months before you earn any money but it can pay off significantly.
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
You’ll want to really think about this because your domain name is so important. Make sure you consider the following when choosing a name:
- Easy to Pronounce & Spell
- Make it Short (I know, I know my domain name is a little long)
- Easy to remember
Click here to see if your desired name is available. This is the best (and cheapest) place I found to purchase my domain name, it’s all in the name “Name Cheap”.
I’ve kept my domain name with Bluehost because it came free for the first year, I recently renewed it for $15. I just purchased a new domain for another site I was thinking about starting and I purchased it from NameCheap.
Please note: You only need to purchase the domain name from NameCheap, you do not need to purchase any additional add ons.
Step 3: Get Hosting
Now that you know what your domain name will be, it’s time to get started! You’ll need to get web hosting. Why? Look at it like this; web hosting is like having a landlord. To live there (on the web) you have to pay rent but at a very low price.
I host my site on Bluehost. Update: I used to host my site on Bluehost but for the “Shared” plan I was on it only allowed me to have 4,000 visits to my site a day and I was exceeding that so I switched to SiteGround (More Affordable).
I mean, look at how crazy my traffic was this day (MIND BLOWN)
I had 19.4k page views in one day! I now get well over 300,000 page views per month but keep in mind, I’m a year into this.
I also made $400 this day from Ad sales which was a great way to end the month with $4,784.88. I discuss this more in my article on How I Make Money Blogging.
I recommend using SiteGround for the following reasons:
- Site Speed (They helped reduce my site speed by 10 seconds, that’s huge!)
- Affordable – SEE note below in red on special offer. I paid $65.40 with Bluehost and I could have paid only $47 for the first year with SiteGround
- Once your traffic grows you can easily move to their “GoGeek” plan like me and it is the most inexpensive plan compared to the other Hosting sites I found.
- The SSL Certificate is FREE! Google will begin to penalize websites that are unsecured if they do not have the “S” at the end of HTTP (the “S” indicates that it is secured).
Note: SiteGround just launched a special hosting promotion in response to the COVID-19. New customers can get 3 months of our StartUp hosting at just 0.99 USD. They do not have an end date for this offer so take advantage of this while you can.
Choose the WordPress Hosting and start with the StartUp Package when you are ready to sign up.
Here is a quick video I did to help you set up your account
Step 4: Find a Theme (aka Template)
I always tell people to draw out what you want your site to look like BEFORE purchasing a theme. Check out your competitors and sites you admire.
Try not to choose a free theme because they are typically not up-to-date and do not provide support.
To me, this is one of the toughest parts. Most people don’t make it pass this part. Don’t be discouraged it took me 3 days just to figure out how to download my theme, I had no idea what I was doing but if I would have given up I’d never be living the life I am today. So don’t give up. Let Google, Facebook Blogging groups, YouTube, and especially your chosen theme developer be your friend.
If you don’t know what to do, ask. Even deciding on what theme to choose can be difficult, there are soooo many out there. Buckle down and just choose one (after doing your due diligence of research).
Are you all in or not? Will you do what it takes to get this going?
If you don’t know how to do something, which will probably be the case… ask the developer of your theme for help. You paid for this. I was emailing my developer daily, I had no idea what I was doing. AND remember, once you get the “look” of your site established you NEVER have to do this again.
Step 5: Install WordPress and Your Theme
Install the Classic WordPress Editor plug-in before you start writing articles to make your life easier. I’m NOT a fan of the recent update from WordPress.
To add your theme, follow the documentation from your purchased theme on how to set it up to WordPress. If you have ANY questions, contact your developer for your purchased theme.
This is a huge learning curve for newbies so don’t be afraid to ask for help even if you think it’s a stupid question, we don’t know these people 🙂
Just a tip: I did screenshots on parts of other websites I liked and sent them to my developer to ask him how I could do that on my site and then he instructed me on how to do it or just did it for me.
Once your theme is installed, the fun begins! You can start creating. Make sure you go ahead and install the SSL certificate right away! Here’s how you do it.
If you bought your domain name from NameCheap you’ll need to direct your domain name server to SiteGround. Here is how you do it on NameCheap and this is where you find the name server for your account on Siteground. You only need to copy this part for the name server Example: ns1.us234.siteground.us
Here is a good overview of WordPress to help you understand how to navigate through it
Step 6: Change your Permalinks Settings – DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP
Before you get started posting anything, go to your Settings -> Permalinks -> Choose “Post name” and then save the changes.
Note: When you write your posts, the permalink “Post Name” should be whatever keyword you are targeting if you are considering SEO.
If you’re writing a list post, i.e “5 of the Best Blog Posts” try to never put a number in the permalink. If the main keyword you are writing about is Best Blog Posts, let that be your post name. So it would look like this, triedandtruemomjobs.com/best-blog-posts
Permalinks are permanent URLs for the pages on your site. They should never change, so it’s important to get it right before you start posting.
Permalinks should not include dates because the search engines use words, not numbers to understand what your site is about.
Step 7: Set up your email
Instead of having @yahoo.com or @gmail.com use your domain name. You can do this in SiteGround’s cPanel under “Email”.
I highly recommend integrating your website email account with your Gmail account or whoever your email provider is for a better user experience. Here are the instructions if you have Gmail I’ve always had to use their chat however to get it connected, you might have to do the same.
Below I’ve listed some other tips that will help get you going before you launch your blog:
- Keep it to yourself until after you launch. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how this will add value to what you’ve done. You will need others to bounce ideas off so create a small circle of positive minds and keep it small. You already have yourself that will give you doubts.
- Join the Facebook group Blogging Like We Mean it for encouragement, support, and to stay updated on what’s going on in the blogging world. My site went haywire one day and I went to this group and told them what happened and they quickly helped me get it fixed for FREE!
- Try and have at least 10-20 posts already on your site before you launch, you’ll want to look established.
- I love this post on Darren’s Step-by-Step Process on How to Write a Blog Post, it will be very valuable to read.
- Use your competition as a helpful guide for popular topic ideas, see the tools I use in my article on how to make money blogging.
- Chop your paragraphs up for readability, no one wants to read a big block of text. You shouldn’t have any more than 2-3 sentences before you need to make a break/return.
- After you post your article always read it again on mobile to see how it looks because most people use their phones to read articles.
- ALWAYS keep your readers top of mind when writing. I constantly ask myself, would my reader want to know this, would they really care about that? and I always ask myself at the end of the article did I fully answer the question or cover the topic I’m writing about. And your answer should always be Yes.
- Look for the best opportunities to monetize your site through affiliate marketing, ads, advertising, sponsorships, and the list goes on.
- When you add pictures to your website, make sure you save the file for whatever keywords you want people to find your content. I wish I’d known to do this earlier.
- Start a Facebook page and Pinterest page if it makes sense for your audience. I spend all my time on Pinterest because that’s where I get a lot of my traffic, you can see how I do that here.
- Install Google analytics to track the activity on your site.
- Download this Free 38-Item checklist and keep it on hand for when you write your articles to make sure you didn’t miss any critical SEO steps.
- I worked with a graphic designer on Fiverr to create my logo for $10. Venom_hunt on Fiverr does AMAZING work, I wish I had used him when I was creating my logo. Mine is very plain, but I like it. You can also try logo ideas out on Tailor Brands, it’s very cool to see your logo come to life especially when you don’t know what you want. I have a 30% coupon that’s good until March 31st if you use coupon code TTMJ.
How did I only pay $84 for my site?
These are the FREE tools I use to help manage my site:
- Images: I use free stock photography websites like pexels, unsplash, stocksnap, and pixabay.
- Image Size Reducer: I actually use the snipping tool on my computer and take screenshots of my images. This greatly reduces the size of the image and takes 2 seconds. It doesn’t even distort the quality of the pictures! MAKE SURE TO SAVE YOUR IMAGES AS JPEG not PNG. I learned the hard way.
- SEO: Yoast
- No follow Link: Rel Nofollow Checkbox – When you include affiliate links on your website you ALWAYS need to make it a “no-follow” link so google won’t try to recognize it.
When you add a link to a website it will always be a “follow” link and Google and other search engines will penalize you for using too many paid links. To get around that you can download a no follow plug-in and edit your affiliate links to look like the above.
If you use WordPress, click on your hyperlink and then edit. Check the rel=”nofollow” and “Open a link in a new tab” so the user can stay on your site. I use the Rel Nofollow Checkbox plug-in for my site.
- Formatting: TinyMCE Advanced – this will give you a better experience as you write your articles, trust me.
- Social Plugin: Sassy Social Share
- Email Campaigns & Capturing Emails: Mailerlite
- Creating Blog and Pinterest Images: Canva and Microsoft PowerPoint
- Proofreader: Grammarly – this is a great tool catching most of my grammar and spelling errors (most of the time, sometimes it’s wrong)
- Security: All In One WP Security & Firewall
- Backup my site: WP Database Backup or you can use Siteground’s Backup
- Broken Link Checker: This plug-in has saved me many times because links often change and there is no way I’d know that without this plug-in.
- W3 Total Cache – helps improve website speed
- Strike Out No Follow Links: This Google Chrome extension is great! It helps you figure out what Affiliate links your competition is using as long as they aren’t using a plug-in like Pretty Links or a tool that makes all of their links no-follow, but I can show you how to get around this.
By downloading this Google Chrome extension it will automatically cross out any link that is a no-follow link (see example in the screenshot below) for any site you visit.
You see how Milotree is crossed out? That’s my affiliate link and it’s crossed out because I made it a no-follow link. This is also a good tool to use if you want to Guest post on a blog and see if they allow do-follow links (which you want) by looking at previous Guest post articles.
If someone is using a tool like Pretty Links you can tell if it’s an affiliate link when you hover over the hyperlink with your mouse on your desktop and see their domain name followed by whatever keyword they chose in the lower left-hand corner of your screen.
For example, I used the Pretty Links tool in this post. See what happens when I hover over “Fanatics”? If you look at the url in the bottom left-hand corner, you can see how I disguised the affiliate link url using Pretty Links. This is another little-known way to find out what affiliate program your competitors is using.
Once your website is live, update Google Webmaster Search Console and submit your sitemap:
- After your site is verified, go to Google Search Console.
- Click the name of your website:
- Click Sitemaps:
- Click ADD/TESTSITEMAP.
- Enter sitemap.xml , and then click Submit Sitemap.
PLEASE consider SEO when you write! See how I do it now in my article here. I wish I would have done this when I first got started.
I’ve been asked by many people to start a YouTube channel so they can see how a lot of this stuff is done, so please click on the “Load Comments” section below and ask me any questions you may have about blogging and I’ll probably do a video on it.
I have completely enjoyed creating my website, and I’m sure you will too, it is very rewarding.
If you have any questions about starting your website, pop me a note in the comment section below…I’m happy to help!
Thanks so much for reading! If you found this content helpful, please be sure to subscribe to Tried and True Mom Jobs email list.